The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), one of EI’s affiliates in the Philippines, has denounced recent cases of teachers and union activists’ killings.
ACT reported to EI on the brutal killing of Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) Vice President, Attorney Augusto F. Cezar, on 12 October. ACT says the murder, if not rapidly elucidated, will indicate to academic institutions but also the whole teaching profession, that impunity is still prevalent in the Philippines.
Also demanding justice for the brutal killing of another activist – Italian anti-mining militant Father Fausto ‘Pops’ Tentorio – the ACT General Secretary, Mrs France Castro, said: “Teachers are alarmed by the continuing persecutions and killings of individuals and organisations fighting for peoples’ rights. How can teachers encourage students to stand for their and people’s rights, in those conditions? ”
ACT also disapproves that militia and other paramilitary groups are set up with the approbation of the Government. The teacher union ACT says those groups are responsible of many human rights violations and are commonly used as private armies by provincial political clans.
EI Deputy General Secretary, Jan Eastman, explained that: “Government must guarantee teachers and students a safe environment where they can teach and learn. The murder of the Polytechnic University Vice President should be impartially investigated and the responsible brought to justice. An attack on education personnel violates the most basic human rights for students and teachers: the right to life and the right to education. An attack on the provision of education prevents children from realising their full potential as human beings, and therefore constitutes an attack on civilisation.”
Mrs Eastman referred to EI’s Declaration Schools shall be safe sanctuaries, which requests education to be protected and not targeted for attack or used for military purposes.
The Declaration further states “teachers, their unions, governments and the international community shall enable all education institutions promote values of tolerance, understanding, conflict resolution, and respect for cultural and religious diversity both in their curricula and by fair, inclusive and transparent management in line with the UNESCO Recommendations on the Status of Teachers.”
EI presents its condolences to the victims’ families and colleagues, and calls on Philippines authorities to guarantee that students, teachers, schools and universities are protected, and that education becomes an agent of peace.
To read the full EI’s Declaration Schools shall be safe sanctuaries, please click here